Things to Do in Moab
Experience one of nature’s roller coaster rides, Hell’s Revenge Trail. Set in a desert canyon outside of Moab, the off-roading track crawls over slick rocks, along cliff faces, and up and down near-vertical terrain. Between rock-crawling adventures, stop to take in views stretching from Arches National Park to La Sal Mountains.
Set in the high desert of the American Southwest, Canyonlands National Park comprises 337,598 acres (136,621 hectares) of rugged landscape divided into four distinct districts by the Green and Colorado rivers. Deep craters, towering rock spires, white cliffs, and majestic buttes dominate the landscape of Utah’s largest national park.
In an area filled with challenging mountain passes, technical terrain and plenty of level 2, 3 and 4 hikes, the Rock Art Sites of Moab offer travelers easy access to ancient drawings scattered along paths even a novice can navigate.
Old-school petroglyphs and pictographs pay homage to the Paleo-Indians, a group of historic people thought to be the first in the area, and visitors can wander through scenic points like the Moon Flower Canyon, Birthing Scene and Jug Handle Arch to gain new perspective on the traditions of a culture that’s long gone, but still remembered. Travelers say the road that winds through the Rock Art sites is one of the area’s most scenic, making it a perfect rainy-day activity when wet weather makes scaling mountaintops or biking down rugged passes impossible.
According to local legend, this breathtaking mesa with incredible panoramic views of Canyonlands National Park and the roaring Colorado River, was once home to wild mustang herds that old-school cowboys worked tirelessly to break. Today, Dead Horse Point State Park attracts hikers, photographers and mountain bikers seeking out rugged terrain, epic scenery and untouched natural wonder. Intrepid trails offer thrill-seeking bikers a raging shot of adrenaline, while shorter hikes up well-marked paths lead to epic views of some of the country’s most beautiful scenery.
The red Moenkopi sandstone peaks of the Fisher Towers are one of the most photographed sites in Utah. Their rigid summits stretch high into the open skies and on clear days, the juxtaposition of red rock against brilliant blue makes for an imagine that’s worth making the trip just to capture.
Outdoor enthusiasts and avid climbers say challenging passes like Finger of Fate, Titan Tower and Stolen Chimney make Fisher Towers is a destination for thrill seekers, and they caution that the dangerous twists of the famous Cork Screw tower are not for the faint of heart either.
Visitors agree that the Corona Arch is one of Red Rock Country’s most spectacular sites. With its swoop of natural sandstone that stretches up towards a thrilling mountain pass, Corona Arch proves a highlight for travelers to the Moab area. The technical trail, which scales smooth rock walls and requires a ladder and cable to ascend, is a difficult but doable adventure that grants visitors epic views and a hard-earned sense of accomplishment. More adventurous travelers and daredevil outdoorsmen can repel from the top of Corona Arch in what can only be described as a serious natural rush. But a visit to this popular destination is still worthwhile for the faint of heart who prefer to take in beautiful views of the arch from the ground up.
Up a gorge of the Colorado River and between red sandstone cliff walls, Westwater Canyon is one of the best spots for experiencing white-water rapids near Moab. Running 17 miles and crossing the Colorado-Utah state border, there are pools and streams for both beginning and advanced rafting levels. There are 10 class III-IV rapids for experienced whitewater rafters. Journeys through the canyon vary from 1,200 foot high canyon walls to black rock cliffs and rapids through gorges, and stops ashore can include exploration of caves, historic cabins, Indian petroglyphs, and some of the oldest geographic layers in the world.
Great Blue Herons, river otters, and bald eagles can also be spotted. The canyon is remote and often serene (when the water is calm) and the variety of scenery and speed makes this is an easy spot to see a lot in a short amount of time.
The eroded red rock wonderland of Arches National Park houses more than 2,000 natural stone arches, the densest concentration in the world. Geological marvels abound—here you’ll find hundreds of soaring pinnacles, the iconic Delicate Arch, and Landscape Arch, the largest natural arch in the world at 290 feet (88 meters) across.
Visitors to this western gem can step back in time some 150 million years when dinosaurs ruled the southern edge of Utah. Self-guided walking tours and informative pamphlets lead travelers through rugged terrain and along well-marked paths to ancient remains from these extinct giants of the Jurassic period.
Best known for the well-preserved fossils of plants and dinosaurs found in the popular Morrison Formation area, Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail is also home to the remains of a now-defunct copper mill from the 1800s. Travelers can explore the area on foot and examine fossils and the old-world factory in a truly hands-on way, as Dinosaur Trail is free of fences and guards, allowing tourists to roam as freely as dinosaurs once did.
Adrenaline junkies will find their fix on Cataract Canyon’s raging white waters. Several stretches of class five rapids push even the most expert rafters past their limits in what can only be described as one of Utah’s best white water scenes.
With telling names like Big Drop, Little Niagara, Satan’s Gut and The Claw, it’s no wonder Cataract Canyon attracts thrill seekers from across the globe. The roaring river winds through scenic Canyonlands National Park and several slow-flow areas allow travelers to recover from challenging waves while taking in the incredible mountain scenery. A trip through Cataract Canyon is sure to be a wet, wild and memorable adventure!
More Things to Do in Moab
No-frills camping and incredible scenery are just part of what makes this 9,000-acre recreation area a destination for families traveling to Utah. Sand Flats Recreation Area is home to some of the state’s most pristine hiking trails and intense mountain bike paths. And while the protected area is easily accessible from Moab, travelers say part of its charm comes from feeling miles away from civilization.
In addition to reveling in panoramic views of wide mountain spaces, visitors can voyage out on two wheels along the Slickrock Bike Trail. The pass’s challenging level 4 descents and technical terrain make it a destination for daredevils. Nearby Porcupine Rim Trail offers travelers a chance to explore on two feet, though visitors warn the rocky cliffs are best left to fit adventurers.
With fewer than 1,000 residents, Green River could easily be a sleepy town with little to do or see. But visitors say this quiet community on the banks of the nearby Green River, is actually home to some of Utah’s best attractions, making it well worth a visit. Adrenaline junkies can raft their way through white water rapids on guided tours of the roaring river, while history buffs can venture into the past at the John Wesley Powell River History Museum. The unique rock formations at nearby Goblin Valley provide scenic terrain to explore on foot and the Black Dragon Canyon Trail offers visitors a chance to take in the beautiful mountain scenery on one of the area’s most epic trails.
The La Sal Mountains are Utah’s second highest mountain range with nine peaks surpassing 12,000 feet. Their diverse terrain, impressive views and sky-high summits make La Sal Mountains the ideal place for travelers looking to boulder, ice climb, hike, scramble or go canyoneering.
La Sal’s level 2 and 3 climbs attract intrepid travelers year-round, but visitors agree the steep mountain passes may be too technical for novice wanderers. Many of the trails that lead to 12,000 feet peaks require an ice axe to navigate—even in July! The cooling natural pools and quiet waterfalls of Mill Creek, Negro Bill Canyon and Professor Creek canyons make them popular with hikers during warmer months. And because La Sal Mountains are contained almost entirely on public land, visitors can camp almost anywhere before heading out on an early morning climb.